Elsie Joy Davison
|b. 14 Mar 1910, York, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
||1 Jul-40 to 8 Jul 1940
| RAeC 1930
Father: Rupert Gustavus Muntz, a clerk (b. 1863 in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England, m. 1906, d. 1914); Mother: Lucy Elsie [also Muntz] (d. 1955)
m. 1933 in Chester, William Fettis 'Frank' Davison, an 'engineer (railway rolling stock)', later owner and manager of Hooton Aerodrome in Cheshire:
Co-Director, with Frank, of Utility Airways Ltd
'B' Licence holder. Prev. Exp: 1,265 hrs
Elsie Joy Muntz, who was always known as Joy, and signed herself as ‘E. Joy Davison’, originally wrote to Pauline Gower in early December 1939:
“My Dear Pauline,
I have just this minute got wind of the W.S.A.T.A [Women’s Section Air Transport Auxiliary], and would very much like some further details about it.
At present I am flying for the N.A.C. with Portsmouth, Southsea and I.O.W. Aviation, based at Cardiff, but I am not particularly impressed, though the pay is reasonably good. Could you let me know how much the ATA are offering as a salary, and whether (if you know yet) there will be any chances of promotion later, or will one stay for ever as a Second Officer?
My experience at the moment is nearly 1,300 hours, of which about 600 is on twins and about 100 night. Normal peace-time occupation is Commercial Pilot; age is 29; not married any more (since 20/11/39!) ‘B’ Licence No 2567. Types flown: Moth, Avian, Puss Moth, Fox Moth, Cadet, Swift, Desoutter, Drone, Proga, Monospar, Tiger Moth, Klemm, Airspeed Courier, Airspeed Ferry, Miles Falcon; Privately owned: Cadet; experience: British Isles only.
My best wishes to Dorothy, if you should see her, and of course to yourself.”
By the 9th of December, however, she wrote:
“My Dear Pauline,
Many thanks for your letter and dope enclosed, also for the further circular letter from BA detailing salary etc.
Sorry old thing, but I fear the dough isn’t good enough, particularly considering one would be flying open cockpit stuff for a large majority of the time! Afraid I’m getting soft or old or something, but when I’ve got a job which pays about twice as well and where one earns one’s money in more or less comfort, the change offers no worthwhile attractions! Nevertheless I wish you all very well, and if any of you should happen to come to Cardiff for any reason do look me up. Of course I may be away I can give no promises!
Let me know when you have time and things have progressed a bit further, which of our flying females you have roped in!
Best of wishes to you, my dear, and the very best of luck to you. Awfully glad they picked you to be at the head of this thing. May it and you go far together!”
Six months later, and things had moved on somewhat:
Herewith the dope about me. Since chatting on the phone, I’ve managed to get some extra petrol to cover the trip to Hatfield by car, so think maybe it would save time if I were to come through while the contracts going through official channels – what do you think? If you agree send me a wire, and I’ll pack up and come pronto. Point is, the posts here are awful and I didn’t get your letter till this morning so a whole day was wasted which in these times is the devil!!
What sort of digs accommodation is there around Hatfield? Pretty crowded I reckon.
Am looking forward to coming a lot and so glad I can be of assistance. I’ll tell you more about what’s kept me out of it since N.A.C. cracked up, when I see you!”
Joy started on the 1st of July, 1940.
Exactly one week later, unbelievably, tragically, she died in a crash.
The accident report said that the aircraft made a ‘spiral dive’ (not a spin) at about 600-700ft. "It continued in this spiral until it hit the ground and eye-witnesses, who are experienced pilots, state that they had no reason to consider that it was out of control but, for some unknown reason, it remained in the spiral until it hit the ground."
The pilot/instructor, Sgt l’Estrange was an exceptionally experienced instructor and was well acquainted with Master aircraft; Joy, as we have seen, was an exceptionally experienced pilot on many different types of aircraft.
No cause was ever found for the crash. One theory was that carbon monoxide leaked into the cockpit (despite Joy’s prediction, and unlike many pre-war Miles designs, the Master had an enclosed cockpit) and rendered the two of them unconscious.
Her many friends were aghast; Jennie Broad, who had also just joined the ATA, wrote to Pauline the very next day (9th July):
“Dear Miss Gower,
I would appreciate any information you are able to give me of Mrs Davison’s accident. We were old friends and if there is anything I can do please do not hesitate to let me know at once.
I have written to Mrs Davison’s mother, but as she will probably be in Hatfield before she receives my letter, will you be so kind as to give her, or anyone else representing her, my address and ask them to get in touch with me?”
Pauline wrote straight away to Joy’s mother:
“I should like you to know how we shall miss your daughter. She was a most kind and cheerful member of this Section, and a first class pilot. May I offer you our most sincere sympathy in your bereavement."
Cremated at Bristol.
Nearly a year later, on the 4th July 1941, Joy’s sister, Hope Muntz, wrote to Pauline Gower, asking her if possible to ‘write a few lines to my mother on the 8th…. If you could give any news of the ATA and of Jenny Broad & Mrs Patterson I know she would be so pleased.”
Pauline, of course, did write, to say; “we shall be thinking of Joy and wishing she could still be with us.”
Frank had married fellow aviator Margaret Ann Longstaffe in 1939:
and 3 years after he was killed in a sailing accident in 1949, she became the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic.
Download ATA Pilot Personal Record (.zip file):